Sen. Kamala Harris‘ expert questioning of Amy Coney Barrett was an intricate mix of a campaign speech that drew on her prosecutorial acumen in order to effectively bring attention to what she described as Republicans’ true motivation behind the judge’s eleventh-hour nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Democratic vice-presidential nominee on Tuesday evening contrasted Republicans “rushing” to confirm Barrett with how they have also been delaying passing a bill that would grant financial relief to taxpayers reeling from the devastating economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. Harris said that’s because they want Barrett to help decide the election’s results should it be contested and go all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Republicans are scrambling to confirm because they need one more Trump judge before Nov. 3,” Harris said as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Harris then turned her attention to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama‘s signature healthcare law more commonly referred to as Obamacare, underscoring the repercussions of Republicans making good on a threat to fully repeal it.
Finally addressing Barrett directly, Harris rattled off the litany of consequences such as no protections for people with pre-existing conditions and “more than 20 million people losing insurance at the worst possible time.”
Harris then called out Barrett for opposing Democrats’ efforts in 2016 to confirm Obama-nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Harris explained that “Trump promised to name judges to tear down the ACA.”
Harris reminded Barrett that after he nominated Barrett, Trump tweeted about Obamacare’s potential demise.
“The horrifying truth is … they’re fighting to take health care away from people in a pandemic,” Harris said. “The reality is right now he’s asking the Supreme Court to take it away, period.
Barrett said she did not “recall hearing about or seeing such statements.”
That’s when Harris went into prosecutor mode and set up Barrett with a series of questions that centered on whether the judge ever considers the feelings of the people in her cases. When Barrett said that every case requires her to do so, Harris mentioned how ending Obamacare would allow insurance companies to “discriminate” against Black and Latino and cited Covid-19 statistics showing how the coronavirus has disproportionately affected people of color.
“Will you consider the feelings of these people?” Harris asked Barrett. “What weight would you give that?”
Barrett responded in legalese jargon that proved to be a non-committal answer.
“Consider how the destruction of [Obamacare’s] protections would have a devastating effect,” Harris appealed to Barrett.
But Harris wasn’t done cross-examining Barrett.
She smoothly transitioned to the trailblazing legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose Supreme Court seat Barrett is aiming to replace. Harris told Barrett, who is ardently anti-abortion, that Ginsburg “was far more forthcoming” in her confirmation hearing nearly three decades ago.
“It is essential to women’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker,” Harris said to Barrett while quoting Ginsburg’s own words during her confirmation hearing in 1993. “If you impose restraints that impede her choice, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex.”
Harris then went into Barrett’s own record Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion — including an article the judge wrote suggesting she believes the case is susceptible to being overturned.
Ginsburg was “straightforward enough” and “essential to women’s equality,” Harris ended with. “I would suggest that we not pretend that we don’t know how this nominee views a woman’s right to choose and make her own health care decisions.”
Throughout what at times has been a circus-like election season, Harris has consistently displayed her mastery of political acrobatics. From fending off ridiculous “birther” conspiracy theories to more than holding her own on the debate stage, the senator from California has landed firmly on her feet each time. It was in that context that Harris needed to walk a tightrope of sorts during her questioning of Barrett on Tuesday.
Harris gained plenty of political capital for her pointed line of questioning during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 2018, using that momentum to help launch her presidential campaign early last year. But while she was able to flex her prosecutorial skills while interrogating him about allegations of sexual assault, Nazis in Charlottesville, the Mueller investigation and more, critics all but labeled her an “angry Black woman” in an attempt to discredit her.
This time around, the stakes are even higher as Harris — the Democratic vice-presidential nominee — needed to be aware of possibly turning off swing-state voters who Joe Biden’s campaign is looking to attract in the weeks leading up to Election Day as the hearing inevitably turns to Barrett’s faith, a topic that pro-choice activists say will compel the judge to help overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal.
Notwithstanding, Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court could also end up helping Donald Trump win re-election should the results of the election be contested and ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court, like what happened two decades ago. If that’s the case again, Trump — who will have confirmed his third Supreme Court Justice in just under four years — will have successfully stacked the nation’s top court with conservatives who will undoubtedly rule in his favor.
In addition to all that, Harris will be trying to convince her Republican-led fellow Senate Judiciary Committee members to delay the hearing until the election has been completed in order to allow the will of the people to dictate who gets to choose the person who fills the seat of Ginsburg, who died last month.
Barrett also has a reported membership to an alleged religious and pro-life cult called People of Praise. That, critics say, make her an apparent threat to the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion. That is to say nothing about her use of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
For the record, civil rights groups have condemned Trump for nominating Barrett, saying it undermines the democratic process since voting had already gotten underway by the time the announcement was made.
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., called out the same Republicans who wouldn’t allow President Barack Obama‘s Supreme Court nominee to have a hearing four years ago being fine with doing so now.
“In 2016, Senators refused even to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that arose when Justice Scalia died in February of that year, deeming it too close to the presidential election,” Ifill said in a statement before continuing later. “Yet, now that the President shares their partisan affiliation, many of those same Senators have reversed course — promising to vote on President Trump’s nominee even though the general election is already underway. Our constitutional democracy depends on those in power acting with principle. For the Senate to disregard a rule it created just four years ago because of partisan considerations demeans both the Senate and the Court, and it is an assault on the rule of law itself.”
Even Barrett once explained why she believed — at the time, at least — that it is wrong to confirm a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.
Going into her questioning Tuesday, Harris was likely expected to work her Black woman magic without, you know, being “too” Black. It was only in August when Trump harkened back to Harris humbling Kavanugh and called the senator “a mad woman” who had “such hatred with Justice Kavanaugh,” saying she “was the angriest of the group” of “seriously ill people.”
Chances are that Trump will be trying to pin those same unfounded labels on Harris regardless of the confirmation hearing’s outcome, stoking his usual flames of sexism and racism that could help to decide the 2020 election.
For more on the original click link below: